Chacruna’s Joseph Mays: Indigenous Reciprocity & Plant Medicine Conservation

Joseph Mays: Indigenous Reciprocity & Plant Conservation with Chacruna: Episode 51, The Psychedelic Entrepreneur Podcast

Joseph Mays, MSc, received his Master’s in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent upon researching responses to globalization by indigenous Yanesha of central Peru. After graduating with biology and anthropology degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, he conducted an ethnobotanical survey in the Ecuadorian cloud forest and published a medicinal plant guide for the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. His conservation work emphasizes how cultural conditioning influences the approach of biocultural sustainability. Joseph is Program Director of Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas, where he conducts research and builds connections with small Indigenous communities throughout the Americas to support Chacruna’s mission of increasing cultural reciprocity in the psychedelic space.

In this episode, Joseph Mays and Beth Weinstein speak about…

  • How Joseph’s studies in ethnobotany and permaculture led him to focus his professional work in the areas of reciprocity and plant medicine conservation
  • The fact that there is no such thing as a “pristine” forest – all forests, including the Amazon, have been shaped by human practices of agroforestry
  • The importance of thinking relationally and how working with sacred plant medicines can help by revealing the interconnectivity of all things 
  • How a sense of alienation from self, family, community, and life itself often lies at the root of damaging resource extraction
  • The animistic point of view of many indigenous cultures: everything is interconnected and has a consciousness that is communicating at all times
  • The reality that there is constant disharmony and imbalance in the world and it is your responsibility as a human to contribute to correcting this
  • How the flexible funding of Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas empowers indigenous communities to allocate money in ways they feel is most beneficial for cultural and ecological conservation
  • Traditional harvesting practices as more protective to the plants than modern ones
  • The colonialistic exploitation of indigenous communities by wealthy people who visit to receive the wisdom from the plants without consciousness of their personal impact
  • Balancing the collective need for healing with cultural and environmental conservation
  • The poverty levels of indigenous traditions holders, which are still abysmal even with the rising popularity of psychedelics
  • The need to recognize that some indigenous groups are selling the plants out of real economic need Autonomy and agency as the most important things we can contribute to indigenous people

Joseph Mays’s Links & Resources

Website ▶

Instagram ▶ 

Twitter ▶ 

Linkedin ▶


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